Feb 28th

I spent the day at the gun position: it was quiet except for enemy fighter-bomber attacks: bombs were dropped in the battery gun position area but caused no damage or casualties.

I learned that C Coy were firm on the SE corner of the hill feature; that D and B Coys had amalgamated and were in Sidi ??? with BHQ. DLI CO and Coy Commanders had returned to their battalion. Capt Dawson was with C Coy and a medium gunner with BHQ. At about 2000hrs I reported to RHQ with my party and prepared to relieve Capt Dawson. I waited for Capt Dawson to return, got his information and set out for C Coy at approximately midnight. Apart from the long trip on foot I had not been to C Coy before and had great difficulty in finding them. I imagine I must have approached the enemy FDLs very closely in my attempts to find them on the rocky, bush covered hillside in the pitch darkness. Eventually I bumped into some Commando sentries, and after getting lost again with one of their guides, I was eventually led to C Coy HQ and just managed to establish by daylight. The road from Sedjenane across the river was only a mud track and the mud came over the ankles at each step: an attempt to supply the village by carriers failed because even the carriers failed to negotiate the road.

March 1st

The night 28th-1st was quiet and at first light I did some registration of the zone and liaised with the Coy Commander, Capt Jobey. I knew from my experiences of the previous night that the rear of the feature was held by a Commando troop and I went round to see them. They pointed out to me three MG posts which they had spotted and I engaged and registered them. A direct hit on one of the trenches killed a Bosch as we saw him make a dying leap out of his trench, as a rabbit sometimes does when shot. I did not knock out the other two as when I had recorded the targets they opened up their MGs on the Commando position. After reoccupying my OP with the DLI Coy I did not see very much activity except occasional Bosche walking about on the opposite side of the valley who I shelled.

At about 1500hrs the Coy Commander had gone back to Battalion HQ for information, and infantry OPs spotted an enemy patrol marching down the middle of the valley below us making quickly for Sedjenane. They were about 20-30 strong and making full use of the cover of the bushes. I engaged them as a battery GF target and they turned round and ran rapidly back towards the north hotly chased by shells. The Commando Sgt Major told me later that through his high-powered binoculars he only saw two of them eventually get away.

Between 1600 and l630hrs a heavy mortar opened up on the very congested C Coy position and landed its bombs right amongst us. It looked like doing a great deal of damage. I fired a battery target into the area in which I thought it might be, sweeping and searching, but this had no effect. A Commando ran round to me and told me that on the ridge to the north he could see a Bosche look up with binoculars every time a mortar bomb was dropping and thought that this was probably the OP. He pointed out the area to me and I engaged it extremely rapidly. This had the required effect and no further bombs fell: I fired at this area occasionally until dark. About 20 bombs had fallen but miraculously there were no casualties.

After dark the Coy Commander and I went back to get information--he to Bn HQ and I to the Bty CP. There was no information of importance. I returned to the OP but was then recalled to the CP to get informat-ion and orders. I arrived at the gun position at about 2300hrs and saw the BC. He gave me the DLI battalion plan for an attack to take place at first light the following morning March 2nd. The DLI were now organised in three companies, C, B and D, and were using support coys men to make up B and D Coys which were still below strength. The Commando troop was withdrawing that night from the C Coy feature.

The object of the attack was to clear the whole of the hill features on which C Coy had a foothold, and which was now known to be strongly held by Parachute Engineers of the Barenthin Regiment. B and D Coys were to attack on the east of the feature, roughly towards the north, and C Coy were to attack from their present positions, also to the north, (one Coy of the Lincolns was being held in reserve). Capt Dawson of F Troop was to be FOO with B Coy and Capt Canning of D Troop FOO with D Coy, whilst I was to continue to act as FOO with C Coy. Major Hudson was establishing with DLI Bn HQ at the Mosque about 1000 yds in rear of the hill feature. Dawson and Canning were being allotted a troop of 449 Bty each and were working on battery frequency: I was to fire D Troop at 0530hrs the following morning (277 battery had lost their guns; Capt. Green of C Troop was supporting the Foresters). I was to attend C Coy commanders orders which were to be given at 0300hrs and was to visit GPO D Troop, tie up wireless and target arrangements with him.

I went to D Troop CP and saw Lt Lightbody the GPO: as I entered, shells began falling on 279 gun position and I believe C Troop had casualties. After talking over the plan, I left to return to C Coy: shells fell in Sedjenane village as I walked through.